The Government’s plans to increase the fee for divorce applications by $350 from 1 July face defeat in the Senate thanks to the Greens. The fee increase is one of a number of revenue-raising measures announced by the Government in the May Budget but will be subject to a disallowance motion next week. A number of other court fees, such as fees for filing subpoenas, are also set to significantly rise.
The planned increases to various fees in the Federal Circuit, Federal and Family Courts have come under heavy criticism from the other parties who have described the increases as ‘cynical’ and as ‘using family breakdown as a cash cow for the government’. The Law Council has noted that ‘there is no option for divorcing parties other than to apply to the court’ and that the revenue raised is not being fully invested back into the chronically underfunded Family Courts.
The fee increases are regarded as being particularly onerous on the most vulnerable of court users, such as domestic violence victims. The Greens have pointed out that child abuse and family violence cases require the greatest number of subpoenas to be filed. The Law Council also notes that low to middle income Australians might simply find it “too expensive to enforce their rights through the courts”.
We will keep you posted on the outcome of the Senate motion, however should you wish to guarantee you avoid any potential fee increases, consider getting in before June 30 with any divorce applications and consent orders. Please contact Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 for assistance in this regard.